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The Problem with Afternoon Tea

Afternoon teas are full of sensory delights–delicate porcelain, fragrant tea, fine tablecloths, tasty sandwiches, buttery scones, and dainty desserts. Still–I have a confession. Despite being a tea lover, I have a problem with afternoon tea.

Two Issues with Afternoon Tea

Although I love every component of the tea service, I have a problem with afternoon tea, at least as I have experienced it served in many places in the United States. There are two issues for me–the mix and the quantity of food served.

Traditional afternoon tea includes bready and rich sandwiches, buttery and bready scones, and rich (often flour-based) desserts. Each is delicious by itself. But, when all are paired together, as they are on a traditional three-tier tea stand, it’s too many carbs and too much sugar for me all at one sitting. I do not have any *moral* judgement on putting these things together. None at all! I simply don’t like the way I feel when I eat all these foods at one sitting. That makes afternoon tea a problem for me.

Since I cannot eat this mix and quantity of food, saving some to take home is an option. But, if I am visiting a city or attending an afternoon tea on vacation, I often can’t take or safely store leftovers. So, I feel bad for wasting food. These problems increasingly push me to avoid traditional afternoon teas.

A Proposed Solution

By all means, keep the traditional afternoon tea option. So many people love it. And, they should be able to enjoy it. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy many aspects of the experience. I would, however, love to see more varied afternoon tea menus. Tea sandwiches, and maybe a scone and a dainty sweet–yes! (I am a devout cookie lover, after all. Have you seen my shortbread cookie recipe?) It would be great to have an option with more fruits, vegetables, and proteins appearing on that three-tier tray. Imagine, for example, small fresh fruit kabobs that incorporate fresh mint or basil, colorful cruditรฉs accompanied by herbaceous dips, spiced walnuts or almonds, stuffed red cherry tomatoes, and so on. That’s how I would solve my problem with afternoon tea.

Image of tea party
Flashback photo of a cozy afternoon tea at my house some years ago.
Apparently, I wasn’t in the mood to iron the tablecloth that day. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I just made myself hungry!

And, one more thing while we’re here. I’d also make sure the tea leaves can be conveniently lifted out of the teapot so they stop steeping once the brew reaches the desired strength. But, that’s an issue for another post!

What are your thoughts on afternoon tea?

4 replies on “The Problem with Afternoon Tea”

I totally agree. I love the love and the atmosphere of afternoon tea, but the only time I felt good after one was in Scotland! There served barley soup as the first course, and had fruit and crackers along with tiny sweets.

I like hosting my own afternoon tea at home prior to the pandemic. I looked for excuses to have friends over for tea. So I liked having other options so it’s not sweets on top of sweets (although I always try to make things in small serving sizes. But I like your suggestion of more options. I haven’t gone out for a true afternoon tea, it was something I wanted to do as a tea-venture, prior to pandemic. Before the pandemic, a friend and I went to a cute tea house and sort of ordered what we wanted with tea which I liked. They also had an option for a nice variety of foods for an afternoon tea which made that place top of my list.

I also used to have friends over for afternoon tea (my version ๐Ÿ˜‰ before the pandemic. I miss that! (I have had a few friends over outside–in the warmer weather–for tea.) The pageantry of afternoon tea can feel so indulgent and make it feel special. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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